A violent wreck involving two drivers marred the opening stages of the Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona.
Shortly before the three-hour mark of the 24-hour endurance classic, Memo Gidley slammed into the rear of a near-stationary car driven by Matteo Malucelli. Rescue crews needed to extract Gidley from his car, and both drivers were immediately transported to Halifax Medical Center located minutes from the track, bypassing the infield care facility. Both drivers were "awake and communicating" upon arriving at Halifax.
Gidley, 40, underwent surgery on his left arm and leg late Saturday night and has an "unstable fracture" in his back that will require surgery. Malucelli, 29, remained hospitalized overnight for further observation and is "resting comfortably," according to a statement released by the International Motor Sports Association Sunday morning.
Gidley was behind the wheel of a Daytona Prototype, the fastest of four classes that are competing at Daytona International Speedway. His No. 99 Corvette was the fastest overall qualifier. Malucelli was in a Ferrari 458 Italia, from the GT Le Mans class.
The accident occurred in the infield portion of the road course, which also incorporates parts of the banked oval used by NASCAR. Malucelli's car appeared to lose power exiting the high-speed International Horseshoe and heading into a bright sun when Gidley ran into him. A GIF of the crash can be seen here.
Officials placed the race under a red flag for nearly 90 minutes. This was the first red flag issued since 2004 when heavy rain altered the proceedings for almost three hours.